Cathay Pacific

Cathay targets freighters to meet cargo demand

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2011, 12:00am

Cathay Pacific is planning to order about 15 freighter aircraft to meet cargo demand beyond 2013 and the first multibillion-dollar contract could be confirmed as early as next month.

Nick Rhodes, Cathay Pacific Cargo general manager, said the airline was in negotiations with Airbus and Boeing along with engine manufacturers for its freighter requirements between 2013 and 2018.

He said three types of freighter, the Airbus A330, Boeing 777 and Boeing 747-8, were being considered, with the A330s and 777s for the airline's medium-haul cargo network.

Rhodes said it would be up to the aircraft manufacturers to see 'what they can do' in terms of delivery, price and their ability to fit into the airline's needs. 'All things are on the table,' he said.

Rhodes said that based on the projected global growth in cargo volume of around six to seven per cent a year for the next few years, the airline would need to raise capacity by between two and three freighters a year.

This growth, coupled with the delivery of 10 new Boeing 747-8s and the retirement of its older Boeing 747-400 freighters, meant Cathay Pacific 'had plenty of lift to 2012; beyond that we are looking for additional aircraft', Rhodes said.

Overall, there would be an estimated need for 12 to 15 freighters, including possible additional 747-8s to strengthen long-haul routes to North America and Central and South America and European services.

The smaller aircraft could be used on medium-haul routes, including those between India and Europe, as cargo growth from the Indian subcontinent exceeds the global average.

The 747-8s can carry up to 130 tonnes, while the 777s have a 100-tonne capacity and the A330s can carry about 65 tonnes. All the aircraft could be ordered at one time with firm orders for a certain number of aircraft and options 'locked in at a fixed price' for additional aircraft. Alternatively, orders could be placed in 'two digestible chunks' to give Cathay flexibility in financing and its prevailing assessment of the air cargo market, Rhodes said.

Carry trade

Prices for Airbus and Boeing freight aircraft (US$m)

Airbus A330-200: 203.6

Boeing 777: 269.1

Boeing 747-8: 319.3

Sources: Airbus, Boeing